Exhumed: “Four-in-Hand” and “Life of the Party”

This is Exhumed’s 12th installment.

That’s right, peeps, it’s been a full year of digging up and examining great old stories from the bowels of Cemetery Dance.

Wow.

What an honor it’s been thus far.

But Cemetery Dance, as you know, has been publishing for 29 years and has printed 560 stories.

Let’s see… 12 months of Exumed x 2 stories each = 24 stories reviewed.

And 560 – 24 = …   …   Dear God I have a lot of work to do.

Going to have fun doing it, though!

Alrighty then. On with the show…

Last time I reviewed two Bentley Little stories:

  • “The Sanctuary” from CD #2 (1989), and
  • “In the Room” from CD #71 (2014)

If you look closely at those dates, you’ll realize this is pretty much the greatest spread of years between any two stories by the same author that Cemetery Dance has ever published. It was certainly worth looking into how much Mr. Little changed (or did not change) in those 25 years.

For the first Exhumed Anniversary, I present to you this month two William Relling Jr. stories published only a year apart. I wonder if Mr. Relling even had much time to change his style? Only one way to find out.

Let’s get to it…

THE OLD: “Four-In-Hand”

AUTHOR: William Relling Jr.

APPEARANCE: Cemetery Dance #2: June, 1989. (Story #4 of 11).

PLOT (with spoilers!):

Tony tells our protag (no name given) that they are going at things all wrong, but stops there while he continues killing it on the pinball machine. He adds good English to the ball with a twist of his hips and soon wins himself a free game.

The protag has been partners with Tony for eight months and knows he can be annoyingly slow at delivering his opinions. But the protag likes him well enough the rest of the time. Tony’s a a crack-up, a real card. So he waits.

Tony eventually adds that they’ve been thinking the serial killer they’ve been investigating doesn’t have a motive, but now he’s thinking he knows what the killer has been up to all along.

Tony stops again. Protag doesn’t know where Tony is going with all this, but he does know whatever it is, it’s been weighing on him.

This isn’t surprising considering all the attention the killer has gotten. Dubbed the “Streetside Strangler” by the media, there had already been four killings in less than three weeks, and the pair had gotten exactly nowhere in their investigation. The victims had no apparent connection. There were two males and tw0 females. Three of the victims were white, one was black. The ages ranged from 19 to 45. And they hadn’t been able to find anything indicating any of them had ever met or interacted with any of the others in any way. The only similarity was the killer’s calling-card: a black knit necktie that had been used to strangle each of them.

Tony and protag had gotten reamed out by their captain just that morning, too. They’d been expecting it. Perhaps even deserving of it. But that didn’t change the frustration Tony was currently feeling. It’s why he steered them towards the bar in the first place.

Tony orders his sixth beer in the past hour. The protag drains the back half of his second and orders a third. Tony pulls out and lights a cigarette with shaking fingers. He eyeballs protag and quips, “Waiting me out. You know me pretty good.”

The bartender arrives with their beers, Tony takes his time taking his first, long swallow, and finally gets back to his thoughts on the matter.

He comments that the victims all seem to have nothing in common. He lists their seeming randomness. Ages. Genders. Bodies found spread all over town. Then he mentioned their occupations: a bank teller, a plumber, a gas station attendant, and (most recently… just that morning, in fact) the computer operator who worked for the police department.

He doesn’t explain further, but instead asks if protag had ever dealt with the computer operator himself. Protag shakes his head. Tony says he has and that “You’re lucky. She was a real cunt, man. I’m talkin’ cunt with a capital C.”

He goes on to explain just how annoying the last victim was. Never doing her job right and acting like she was doing other people the biggest favor when she actually did.

“So?” protag asks.

Tony frown. “So, think about it.” Then he lists the victims’ occupations again and waits. Protag shrugs his shoulders, not getting it.

“You’re not tryin’,” Tony said, but yet again refuses to explain any further.

The bartender arrives with yet another beer for Tony. Protag does not order another for himself. The bartender goes back to listening to a pair of pretty, young secretaries who have been chatting him up for a while.

Then Tony goes on a short but muted tirade complaining about various people in the service industry. The kid at the supermarket who won’t answer questions about produce. The sales reps at the department store who hide in corners rather than seek out browsing customers or congregate together laughing it up and respond to direct questions with “We don’t work in this section.”

Tony is reaching for another cigarette, but is too drunk to manage it so protag helps him light the thing. Tony thanks him and once again gets back to his thoughts.

“What if you got somebody who’s had it up to here?” he says. “Somebody who’s so sick and tired of being treated like a piece of crap by people who are s’posed to be serving him.” He goes on to point out that it might be someone whose job it is to be nice to people all day. Another salesman, perhaps, or someone who runs the complaint department somewhere. A priest, maybe, or a shrink, even.

“Or a cop?” Protag asks.

Tony’s eyes lock on to protag’s. “Yeah. Sure. A cop. Why not?”

Protag notices Tony’s eyes flick to the bartender. His arm begins to raise… he wants to order yet another beer. But protag catches it and tells him it’s about time they both go home.

Tony elaborates on the possibilities. The killer goes to the bank to clear up a mistake on his statement, but has to deal with a teller that treats him like it’s his fault and charges him the overdraft fees anyway. Then a couple days later the killer’s bathtub backs up and the plumber who comes to fix it gives him a hard time. Maybe the gas station attendant is lazy and won’t check under the hood.

Tony stops, finally noticing that his loud voice has been gathering attention. Protag drops money on the table and helps Tony exit the bar.

The alley on the way to the car is dark. Tony stumbles more than he walks. Protag is thinking about all the things Tony has said… and also about the things he DIDN’T say.

Was Tony sympathizing with the killer?

Was he confessing knowledge of the killer’s identity?

Something else?

Protag wants to ask him, very badly. He considers asking while Tony fumbles for his car keys. But protag decides not to ask. He loops his necktie around Tony’s throat. “I couldn’t risk it, because there were still too many people who needed taking care of.”

But he’s also remember something Tony had said earlier that afternoon, just after getting reamed by their captain. “Let’s you and me go tie one on.”

Protag ties the loop tight, smiling to himself. Thinking: That Tony, he sure is a card. “Tie one on.” I like that. I like that a lot.

MY GRADE: B+

MY REVIEW:

First, the “bad” stuff:

The first “problem” I came across is one I talked about at great length in last month’s post. There are a couple of details that date this story as old and take us out of the moment for a bit. To be fair, Mr. Relling’s pair of faux pas in this manner aren’t nearly as bad as Mr. Little’s had been. Still, these things happen, and I enjoy pointing them out if for no other reason than to discuss the folly that authors have to face in writing what may seem to be perfectly safe cultural references that change drastically over time. Mr. Relling had two in this story…

1) Tony suggests the killer might have met with an annoying gas station attendant who won’t “check under the hood.” Sad as it is, this line pulled me right out the story. It’s a perfectly reasonable detail for a story published in the late ’80s, but one that doesn’t ring true today. I got my drivers licence in 1991, and I literally can’t think of a single time in my life that I’ve asked a gas station attendant to check under my hood. Imagining doing it today, I can so easily envision the dumbfounded look on that attendant’s face. It’s simply not done anymore. People are in too much of a hurry, and businesses are under too much pressure to make a profit. It’s a small but sad commentary on our society.

2) Though I didn’t share it in my plot commentary, Relling never actually uses the word “bar,” preferring instead to use the more antiquated “saloon.” In my mind this would have been a little dated even in the late ’80s. Weren’t saloons exclusive to the Old West? I thought so. But it raises another question in my mind: At what point did “saloons” become “bars” anyway? Maybe I’m wrong about this one and I’m just a little younger/ more ignorant that I realize.

It also seemed to me that there would have been very clear connections between the victims. The plumber would have had a record of his recent clients, one of which would have been Mr. Protag. Protag would also be on record as to banking at the same branch that victim #1 worked. Yes, the gas attendant would have no automatic connection (at least, not unless Mr. Protag paid for his gas with a credit card), but with victim #4 working for the police, that makes three out of four having a direct connection to our protag. Suggesting there was no connection between the victims was simply not true, and any decent investigator would have easily discovered those details. Of course, one of the two investigators on the case actually WAS the killer, so I readily admit it would be easy for him to fudge those details. One does assume, however, that this killing spree won’t last too long. Detective or not, Mr. Protag can’t hide those connections forever… particularly now that his partner is victim #5.

Now, the good stuff:

Okay, so Mr. Relling has a couple of issues in his story, all of which have kept it from reaching an A-level story in my humble opinion. But clearly there’s some good stuff too, or that little “+” wouldn’t be next to the B, would it? Let’s look at what good ole William did well…

Right out of the gate, I didn’t get the title. I thought it had something to do with the number of victims, but Tony is victim #5, so that didn’t make sense. Fortunately, I live in the modern world. It took me three seconds to do a Google search and discover that the term “Four-in-Hand” (complete with dashes) is the name of the world’s most basic method for tying a necktie. I looked at a YouTube video and confirmed that’s the way I’d been tying my own ties all these years. I just didn’t know what it was called. Okay then, title meaning gleaned: It’s a necktie reference, and because it’s the world’s most used and most basic, it suggests something about the everyman putting on a display of civility… just like our killer protag has been doing. I like it. Nicely done, William.

Next was the complex and deceitful way Relling ultimately reveals who the killer is. I had pegged the protag as our man from the very start. (I’m talking first three or four paragraphs here). It was obvious, right? Two major characters… cops investigating a serial killer but getting nowhere… Yeah. We knew from the beginning that one of these guys is dying and the other one is going to do the deed. There was simply not enough time to establish anyone else as having the possible motive and opportunity. So this was GOING to be a pretty lame murder mystery (and to be fair, any good mystery needs pages and pages and pages to really deceive the readers… take it from someone who has only ever guessed one of Dame Christie’s works correctly). The thing is, that would be a BAD thing, right? A reason to score this story even LOWER… right? Well, the thing is, Relling actually DID get me to guess wrong. Which is pretty impressive for such a short piece. I stuck with my initial supposition all the way through the story… right up until the part where Tony (finally) suggests the killer might be someone who works with other people and our protag openly suggests it might be a cop.

Boom. Okay. Now it CAN’T be the protag. He just said it out loud. Besides, there actually IS one other character… the bartender. So I took a few seconds to think about it and immediately switched my guess to him. Why? Because bartenders are the classic service job… and because neither Tony nor protag ever mentioned the bartender profession as a possibility… and because protag just outed his own profession as one that matched Tony’s description. That would be TOO obvious, right? So suddenly all arrows which had been pointing toward the protag cop directly in front of us all this time were suddenly pointing to the quiet, unassuming bartender character in the background instead.

Think about that bartender. He never says a word in the whole story. He just does his job, listening to this blowhard drunk jerk complaining all afternoon. At one point, after giving Tony another beer, he turns back to listen to a pair of pretty young secretaries (who, we assume, may have also been complaining about their own jobs). He’s the perfect fit.

But what Mr. Relling has done is that most classic of all mystery devices: the red herring. It WOULD have been fantastic, of course, if the quiet, unassuming bartender turned out to be the killer all along. The final scene could have been a perspective switch. Suddenly we see Tony alone in the bar or meeting the bartender a couple days later while at a traffic stop. He finally speaks for the first time… something short and witty like, “You talk too much,” or “Nobody likes a whiny bitch.” And then he’d strangle poor Tony. It’s all too easy to imagine this simple, clean ending…. but that’s not what Mr. Relling gives us. Nope, the bartender turns out to just be a regular guy. His perfect slotting-in as the would-be killer is just a decoy. A red herring. And the real killer is the one that really is just a little too perfect: the cop who is investigating his own murders.

And for that I give Mr. Relling a nod of my head and a tip of my cap. You got me, Bill. You got me.

(Please note that I’m not very good at guessing mysteries. I’m relatively new to the genre and I still have a lot to learn).

Another positive to this tale is yet another one that at first seemed to be a negative…

In the final scene of the story I was struck with a moment that once again almost took me out of the fictional world of the story. Here was my thought process…

“Umm…. why is Tony– police detective Tony…grabbing for his car keys while being so drunk he can’t manage to walk straight or light his own cigarette? Is this another example detail that dates this story to the ’80s? Maybe. A little, at least. But mostly I’m thinking, no. Mostly I’m thinking this is another, more subtle, element to his character. He’s an irresponsible drinker, and as a cop that makes him a hypocrite, too. Oh wait, the protag is the killer after all! Oh, I get it! Tony is the next victim for TWO reasons: First, he’s another annoying citizen. Protag even said Tony was annoying back in the opening paragraphs. He’s been seeing it for eight months now and has finally snapped. But second, he’s also a hypocrite cop. He’s probably given ten thousand traffic tickets in his time and arrested a couple hundred drunk drivers. In a way, he deserves to die (at least, in the mind of our serial-killer Protagonist).”

What’s really interesting is that Relling never actually gives us the Protag’s true motivation. Yes, it’s safe to assume Tony had nailed it, though. All those people were in the service industry, and the police station’s computer operator WAS known to be that type of person. And clearly from the very beginning protag thinks of Tony as “annoying” because of how long he drags out his thoughts in conversation (and then Mr. Relling takes the readers through the agonizing slowness of Tony NOT sharing his thoughts until the very end of the story). So he fits the victim description, too.

But ask yourself about the following line: “I considered asking him as I came up from behind while he was fumbling with his keys… But I decided not to as I looped my necktie around his throat. I couldn’t risk it, because there were still too many people who needed taking care of.”

Woah. So is Tony a victim of the killer’s need to kill annoying people? Or is he just a cop getting too close to figuring out who the killer is? IE: Is our protag killing Tony because he “deserves” it, or is he merely collateral damage?

It’s a fun way to end the story. We are left guessing what’s really going on. Coupled with the bartender Red Herring and the general quality of the prose itself, this story was a quick, fun read. I’m looking forward to the next one, which was published just one year later.

THE NOT-QUITE-AS-OLD (but still pretty old): “The Life of the Party”

AUTHOR: William Relling Jr.

APPEARANCE: Cemetery Dance #4:  Spring, 1990. (Story #5 of 18).

PLOT (with spoilers!):

Rhonda is sitting perfectly still on the edge of the bed, listening to the voices downstairs through the heating duct.

They are talking about china patterns and crystal goblets, silverware and dinner parties. Rhonda’s sister Jill tells everyone, “Oh, thank you. Thank you all so much.”

Rhonda is sick of Jill and sick of hearing about Jill. Ever since Jill and Darryl had gotten engaged, that’s all anyone has ever talked about.

Someone comments about what Darryl’s response might be when he finally arrives and sees all the presents. Someone else makes a joke about there being no less than four Toast-R-Ovens, and everyone laughs. Someone else wonders aloud if Rhonda is feeling any better.

“It’s a shame she had to… act like she did, her being the hostess and all…”

Rhonda mocks the voice that said this. She’s angry they don’t have the courage to say what they’re really thinking: that Rhonda is odd… that Rhonda is unbalanced… that Rhonda is crazy. That she had had to spend time in the booby hatch while Jill remained the perfect daughter, sister, and soon-to-be wife. That Rhonda will never find a husband of her own.

Rhonda knows she will be the family’s Old Maid. She knows Jill’s friends have probably praised her for asking big sister Rhonda to be the Maid of Honor at the wedding. And Rhonda hates them for this too, mostly because none of them knows what a conniving bitch Baby Jill really is.

Rhonda had met Darryl first. When he was fresh out of medical school, he’d interned at the “hospital” where she’d been staying. And even though Rhonda wasn’t one of Darryl’s actual patients, he’d come to see her and talk to her every day, always smiling, always telling her he hoped she’d get well soon.

Darryl was all Rhonda’s before Jill showed up. “Love at first sight.” That’s what Jill always says whenever she tells the story of when they’d first met. But the truth is that Jill stole Darryl from Rhonda.

Someone downstairs says they found another package in the corner. Jill says she knows it’s from Rhonda and would prefer to wait until she comes downstairs to open it. She asks to open another one instead, postulating that she wishes her big sister were there with all of them.

“It’s her own fault,” someone says.  

“But she’s usually so sweet,” another voice chimes in. “When she’s not being…”

“I know. But that doesn’t mean I can’t feel bad for her.” Jill’s voice. And the words dig into Rhonda because the very last thing in the world she wants is for any of them, but especially Jill to feel pity for her.

They all think it had been their mother and father’s sudden passing in the car accident which had caused Rhonda to slit her wrists. But the tragedy itself wasn’t the reason at all. “It was all the simpering expressions of ‘sorrow’ afterwards. The hypocrites. They’d have driven anyone mad.”

[REVIEWER’S NOTE: At this point in the story I turned the page and my eyes went straight to the illustration printed there… more on this later.]

And they’d all said how kind it was for sweet Jill to move back home so Rhonda wouldn’t be alone. But Jill was a hypocrite too. She’d moved away in the first place, and now she was going to move away again. Leave Rhonda all alone so she could be with Darryl.

Rhonda thinks of all those women downstairs, all those hypocrites and whispers to herself: May you all burn in hell.

Suddenly Rhonda feels a flush of satisfaction, remembering something quite valuable she had managed to learn about herself in the hospital. She’d learned that the reason she had tried to kill herself was because she’d turned her rage in the wrong direction. She’d turned it inward. The doctors had told her that was wrong. She couldn’t let the bad feelings build up inside like that. She needed to learn to turn them outward.

Outward.

“When’s Darryl coming?” somebody asks downstairs. “Shouldn’t he be here by now?”

“Oh yes”, Rhonda answers silently.

Someone else hands Jill Rhonda’s present.

Somebody else suggests maybe they should go upstairs and get Jill’s big sis.

Someone else says it’s probably best to let Rhonda rest.

“It’s too bad she can’t be down here to watch you open her gift.”

“Yes”, Rhonda thinks. “Too bad. But then we can’t have everything we want, can we?”

“It’s not like Darryl to be late like this, is it Jill?”

They chatter on, but Rhonda is already thinking that they don’t know Darryl has already stopped by that afternoon. Before the party. While Jill was taking a shower.

They don’t know how he’d asked Rhonda if there was anything he could do before he left for his bachelor luncheon with his own friends.

They don’t know Rhonda said he could come to her room to help her with Jill’s present.

Somebody downstairs exclaims, “What in heaven’s name do you think it could be?”

“It’s a surprise.” Rhonda thinks.

She looks through the open door of her closet to the headless corpse that lies there on the floor. Next to it is the bloody meat cleaver Rhonda had brought with her from the kitchen. She tells herself: “I guess I’m not going to be the only old maid in this family after all.”

Downstairs, Jill begins to scream.

Rhonda is so pleased her sister likes her gift.

MY GRADE: A-

MY REVIEW:

What we have here is a classic Insanity/ Revenge story, and Mr. Relling nails it. The protagonist, Rhonda has all the hallmarks of this favorite subgenre:

  • She is crazy (has a history of suicide).
  • That insanity is born of a traumatic event (her parents died suddenly in an accident).
  • She has trouble separating her fantasy world from reality (she thinks Darryl loved her when he was merely doing his job).
  • She projects her own faults onto someone else (she thinks Jill is a “conniving bitch” when all evidence points to Rhonda herself being the unstable one and Jill being a caring sister).
  • When she finally takes action to combat her difficulties, she crosses several social lines (kills not Jill but Jill’s fiance… and puts his head in a box… and presents it to Jill at Jill’s bridal shower… sheesh!) AND does so without any remorse (She is calmly sitting upstairs listening to the screams).

Collectively, Relling gives us a fine tale with a shocker (if slightly predictable) of an ending. Unfortunately, I can’t fairly comment on how much of an impact that ending had to the tale because of something Cemetery Dance did in the publishing of the story.

I mentioned in my plot review that towards the end of “Life of the Party” I turned the page and my eyes went to the picture Cemetery Dance had opted to print there. This is the image I saw:

Do yourself a favor and go back to the plot description for a second and check out exactly where I was in the story when I saw it.

To be clear, I love the picture. Jeff Mason really captured the moment well. The drawing itself isn’t the problem. It’s the location of the drawing within the magazine. Yeah. The Cemetery Dance formatting dude/dudette totally ruined the ending of this story for me. (Was that still you, Richard Chizmar? God it feels weird to be pseudo-angry at you for something you may or may not have done 27 years ago. But if it was you, then, yes. I’m still angry at you for it).

Now I’m far (very far) from being an expert in publishing like Mr. Chizmar himself has clearly become, and far be it from me to tell anyone working in the hallowed pages of Cemetery Dance what to do… but I actually have dabbled in the industry for a bit with a short-lived (read: FAILED) teen magazine a few years back, and before I admitted defeat and closed shop, I did manage to learn a few things. One of them is that filling page space is a constant bugaboo. It’s a perpetual headache for the designer(s).

For example: You have to keep all your fiction fonts consistent, both in style and size. Column width and height must also be consistent. And for a piece as short as this one (the whole story is only a little over a thousand words), you really don’t have much extra room to play with. In the magazine, it took up three full columns and a tiny little chunk at the top of the fourth. What to do with all that extra space at the bottom of that last section?

Well first off, you can’t leave it blank. Again, I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that one of the single greatest cardinal sins for any magazine or newspaper publisher is to leave a giant whack of white space anywhere in their final printed product. What you do is you fill it with something, anything. An advertisement. A quote from the story. Or, of course, the go-to favorite white-space-filler: a custom illustration.

Last month I commented on how Alan A. Clark’s drawing actually made a significant enhancement to an already-great Bentley Little story. That was in part because Clark had showcased something only hinted at by the author. But there are more major differences here… the Clark image appeared at the beginning of the story rather than at the end, and while it technically was also a depiction of the story’s climax, it was both too strange to quality as a spoiler (readers aren’t quite sure what they were looking at until actually reading the story), AND the style of the story itself didn’t lend itself to having much of a true spoiler.

Relling’s piece does hinge on that shocker of an ending, and despite what Cemetery Dance may or may not have “ruined” in putting that all-too-specific illustration where they did, it begs another question of stories like this: Do stories with surprises in them reduce the number of re-reads/ re-viewings by their audience? In other words, once we know a story secret, are we less likely to dive into that story again?

I would like to propose that, No, they don’t. There are countless people who, unlike myself, don’t mind spoilers or even go out of their way to request them. I know many such people. In fact, I’m even married to one of them. And as much as their nonchalance at having their first impressions molded by others rather than the storytellers themselves may baffle me, I respect and in one small way even share their perspective. When I come across a good yarn that manages to not just surprise me but genuinely shock me at the end—I’m looking at you, M. Night Shyamalan, and also you Dame Christie (she fools me every time)—I actually have an even stronger need to go back and re-experience the details of the story. I like seeing the clues laid out a hundred pages in advance. I like seeing the odd behaviors in the opening scenes suddenly make all the sense in the world.

Looking back over “Life of the Party,” for instance, I can see the true depth of Rhonda’s insanity. You see, it’s not that she killed Darryl to spite her normal, popular sister. It’s that in the hours after doing so, she’s already forgotten she’s done it. In the opening scene Rhonda is shown being angry at Jill and being sick of hearing about Jill. We are led to feel empathy towards her because we see her suffering. But if Rhonda had had even a little bit of her mind still with her, wouldn’t she be up in her room metaphorically rubbing her villain’s hands together in anticipation of what is to come? Even better, wouldn’t she be downstairs amongst the gaggle of women so she can watch her sister’s face at the big moment? No. Only at the end does Rhonda even “remember” the thing she’d learned in the hospital and that Darryl’s head is in that box.

The framework for this story is a simple one, to be sure, and re-reading it was both quick and painless. I enjoying seeing that extra detail in the opening paragraphs. Still, I wish I had been able to experience Mr. Relling’s true intent. Would I have figured out the truth before the description of Darryl’s headless body in the closet? Probably. But not that far in advance. Not where it was thrust upon me as I turned that page.

Still, this was only issue #4, and the quality of this and the other stories Cemetery Dance managed to find and print far outweighs this minor gaff.

FINAL THOUGHT

William Relling Jr. had five stories published in the pages of Cemetery Dance. All of them were in the magazine’s early days and in total within a two-year period. Two appear in issue #2 (1989), one appears in issue #4 (1990), and two more were co-written with other authors and appeared in issues #5 (1990) and #8 (1991), respectively.

Considering that Mr. Relling was in his mid-40s at that time and that he passed away somewhat recently in 2004, one has to wonder why his name ceased appearing in Cemetery Dance. Did he slow down (or stop) his production of short stories to concentrate on writing novels (of which he had published two before, two during, and three after this time period)? Did the editor(s) of Cemetery Dance tire of his style or decide to move their production in another direction? Did Relling himself opt to submit his short works elsewhere for some other reason(s)?

I don’t know, and his Wikipedia page is tragically thin on details of his writing life. What I can say is that I’m glad to have found a few of his works here when I did. If there’s one thing that has always been great about Cemetery Dance, it’s that diving into its pages is more than likely going to introduce you to another author you wish you had known about earlier.

FYI: All three of Mr. Rellings remaining stories within Cemetery Dance are currently slated to appear in “Exhumed” #19 (to be published in roughly May or June of 2018).

Are you going to read them along with me?

Did you like (or dislike) something I had to say about Relling’s works (or Cemetery Dance’s use of illustrations)?

Go on and fill in that emtpy box down there and feel free to say so in the Comments.

-K. Edwin Fritz

NEXT MONTH

Next month I’ll be reading/ reviewing each of the following:

  • “Better Than Breadrumbs” by Ronald Kelly (Cemetery Dance #2), and
  • “Pelingrad’s Pit“ by Ronald Kelly (Cemetery Dance #63)

Keith Edwin Fritz entered this world on Halloween. The year, 1974, was the same as when Stephen Edwin King published his first novel. Keith prefers to think neither the date nor their middle names were a coincidence.

Today Keith teaches 7th Grade Language Arts and writes to his heart’s content during his “spare time.” The best of these moments are nearly always by moonlight. The worst of them are also by moonlight.

In addition to his Cemetery Dance Online column, Keith writes “The Bone Pile” for FictionVortex.

Keith lives with his wife, Corina, in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

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